Sail Noumea: Slow start but multihull record under threat

On board Team Vodafone Sailing - Evolution Sails Sail Noumea
Suellen Hurling

The first two nights have been long and slow on board all 17 yachts racing in the 995 nautical mile Evolution Sails Sail Noumea race with most of the fleet literally parked off the Northland Coast of New Zealand.

At one point, Chris Hornell’s TP52 Kia Kaha was seen to be going backwards as the race track completely glassed out. Most would have envisaged to be further north by now, but all are gritting their teeth and remaining focused as just one puff of air is likely to propel them ahead of the other boats. Concentration is critical.

After a tough start Iolanthe II and Bonaparte took advantage of a light South Westerly over night and finally caught up to the fleet near North Cape. Bonaparte is now ahead of Blizzard. At the 0730hrs radio sched on Monday the fourth of June the majority of the fleet were positioned approximately 25 miles to the north and east of North Cape.

Team Vodafone Sailing was exceeding speeds of 20 knots over night but is expected to experience a 20-30 knot northerly within the next 24 hours which will slow the big tri’s rapid progress north. Despite this they remain in contention to beat the Multihull race record.

Maxi monohull Beau Geste is expected to experience similar northerly conditions in the next 48 hours which will make it difficult to beat the current monohull race record of 2 days, 22 hours, 9 minutes, and 50 seconds.

Goint slowly on board Starlight Express - Evolution Sails Sail Noumea
Suellen Hurling
, the Cookson 50 skippered by Geoff Lewis was keeping pace with the TP52’s Kia Kaha and V5. There was a time overnight when Akatea was leading on both IRC and PHRF handicap. The Ker 40 Icebreaker was a little further back than expected however with the quality crew on board they are sure to be throwing everything at keeping the boat going and making their way through the fleet. At first light it was the TP52 V5 which had resumed the lead on the water of the chasing pack behind Beau Geste and Team Vodafone Sailing.

Royal Akarana Yacht Club, organiser of the 2012 Evolution Sails Sail Noumea race, are the premier club for offshore racing in New Zealand.

'We are the home of blue water sailing and have been since 1931 when we ran the first trans-Tasman race,' said Commodore Matt Woodley.

The race is gaining international attention due to the use of the yellow brick tracking system and the online version of the race on Sailonline.org.

'All of the online information is designed to make the race an interactive experience for the spectators at home.

'And now with Facebook and Twitter, we can literally bring a race from the ocean to the living room, or office or anywhere spectators are online!' said Woodley.

The fleet still has a long way to go with the ETA of leading boat Team Vodafone Sailing now being some time during Wednesday the 8th June.

Follow the race:

Evolution Sails Tracker – http://yb.tl/noumea2012nz
Website – www.sailnoumea.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/sailnoumea
Twitter – www.twitter.com/sailnoumea